Crackdown on illegal number plates

Police forces nationwide will be stopping motorists with illegal number plates this week as part of Operation Larch, a campaign to prevent speeders and other criminals evading being traced.

The campaign runs from today until Sunday February 3 and aims to “identify any links between the use of misrepresented registration marks and criminality; provide suitable evidence to justify changes to penalty levels for related offences; and maximise the disruption of criminal activities and reduce crime levels.”

Frank Whiteley, ACPO lead on Automatic Number Plate Recognition and Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary, said:

"Criminals make use of vehicles to commit crimes and in some cases, will tamper with number plates in order to try and avoid detection by roadside cameras.

Operation Larch will bear down on this growing concern as part of The Police Service’s ongoing campaign to target criminals through their use of the roads.

"It is not known how many motor vehicles display misrepresented number plates or how many are driven by active criminals, but Operation Larch will provide intelligence for the first time on the link between this offence and broader criminality, and inform a debate around the tightening of legislation around number plate offences.”

Funny you say this - got stopped on the 01/02 on way into London on A23. Copper said he was checking my numberplate size.

Told me that it was illegal because it has a slogan on it but as it is the correct size there was no problem…

Yes, because of COURSE all the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have small plates are criminals. This kind of pathetic justication and pedantry really gets my goat.

Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t Operation Larch for all vehicles and not just bikes? :ermm:

What is the smallest number plate you’re allowed? There was a lot of interest in the ‘small numberplate’ stall at the show over the weekend- is it legal to sell them?

100% correct Tiggi, but as to exactly what the score is you’ll have to speak to my Rat colleagues on here (PorkScratchin or Darrylj).

As far as I’m aware (awaits to be corrected by one of the traffic boys), no other plate apart from the standard one that arrives with your bike is legal. I think it’s 9" x 7" but I may be wrong and that will need to be checked.

Of course, some peeps get one that is a little bit smaller than standard and they don’t really get noticed but the smaller you get the more likely you’ll end up with a £30 fine to pay for (no points).

The way I see it, a small plate looks great but it’s an excuse for bored plod to give you a pull and go over the bike to see if there is anything else naughty on there (ilegal can etc etc etc).

is it legal to sell them?

I think they are described by the vendors as ‘Show Plates’ with a disclaimer stating they are not for road use.:wink:

The info on size and lettering is here -

Strange that the head honcho makes reference to the criminals use of the roads but specialised traffic units have been decimated over the years in favour of automated policing.

Any size 2-line plate with correct size characters, spacing and margin is legal.

Yes, it’s the letters size/font and spacing that dictates how much plate space is needed not the actual size of the plate in the first place.

Personally though I cannot see why anyone bothers with small plates these days as it likely to be the first thing you are pulled for. Once you are by the side of the road it’s pretty easy to start finding other things wrong…

Small plates look good

Big plates look ugly

My wallet looks better with £30 of beer money in it…

Hmm… Beauty or Beer?